There are many threads on the subject in the forums - a search will reveal them - but it stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer.
In the case of hardware, components and software it's generally manufacturers supplying system builders with their products minus the retail packs; in that way the builders obtain them at the lowest possible price.
However, you can also buy such products from many online retailers i.e. a bare hard drive or graphics card.
Most will come with the standard guarantee and you also pay much less than for the retail version; OEM software, however, such as that supplied with a system, is supported only by the seller rather than the software company.
Bit of a joke that, isn't it. They cannot sell OEM software unless they also sell the hardware it is fixed to. If it's an OEM version of Windows or Office, Microsoft only permit their accredited system builders to supply it. The wording on this site is a weak attempt at a get out. If OEM software is not sold with an associated non-peripheral item of hardware to which is permanently tied it is illegal.
So if you manage to buy an OEM copy of Windows with a mouse, and that mouse fails you must stop using that copy of Windows.
By the way these are not my opinions, they come from FAST. If anyone knows the rules they will.
Both very true points. I didn't realise I was sounding a bit like a preacher. It was a few months ago that MS dropped the requirement for student proof. I had a meeting with some people from FAST a while back and OEM took up quite a lot of it. The problem is though that it is abused, so they think. Anyway activation has probably killed of most of the misuse of Windows and Office.
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